Thank you very much CDF.
Coming so soon after the deaths of Private Tomas Dale and Private Grant Kirby late last week, this tragic news is another very heavy blow for the Defence community and of course a devastating one for the soldier’s family.
Our thoughts and our deepest sympathies are with the soldier’s loved ones as they face difficult days ahead. They have the support of the whole of Defence and they have the sympathy of all Australians.
This is the fourth member of 6 RAR group deployed to Afghanistan in this rotation who has been lost in a matter of weeks. Another much valued member of their battalion, another mate.
As you have heard, as a result of this incident, 21 Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.
I’m sure this loss, coming so quickly after recent losses will cause some to question why we are in Afghanistan. Let me say, I believe our work there is absolutely vital.
This soldier and his fellow soldiers have been doing the difficult but essential work of training and mentoring the Afghan National Army to build the capacity of the ANA to take on responsibility for security and safety in Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan.
After decades of civil war and failed governance, the people of Afghanistan need our help, and need the help of the international community, to develop the capability to build a secure future.
Although our soldiers in Afghanistan face danger and bear hardship every day they are there to pursue their mission, their mission is critical to the fight against international terrorism.
In our modern world, more interconnected than ever before, threats to the security of Australia and the safety of Australians are not defeated by distance, and the work of protecting our community must include preventing Afghanistan from becoming fertile ground for terrorism.
I know that as they come to terms with this soldier’s death, his mates in 6 RAR will continue to do this extraordinarily tough job with the courage and professionalism that is the hallmark of the Australian Army, that is the hallmark of the ADF.
We have lost a fine and dedicated soldier. He was also, and more importantly, a much-loved young man whose death is going to leave a terrible, terrible gap in the lives of those around him.
Much too often I have had to stand here and announce bad news and offer condolences to grieving defence families.
But let me assure you — and of course, the families of fallen soldiers – our Diggers in Afghanistan have told me again and again that they are immensely proud of the role they play with the international community in ensuring a safer future for that country, and of course for Australia and Australians.
This young soldier was a part of that effort. On behalf of the Australian Government, I offer the very deepest condolences to those that have been personally touched by today’s loss.
Colin Campbell (John Faulkner): 02 6277 7600 or 0407 787 181
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,